During the summer of 2015, I joined a program (Art & Bio Collaborative) that allowed me to travel to Puerto Rico to do artistic biological field studies. This experience was so profound and full of activities that explaining the entire program in one post just isn’t possible, thus this one is going to focus on my experiences in the Puerto Rican jungles, Bosque Rio Abajo and El Yunque!
For most hikes, we were all up by 6AM and wouldn’t leave until the sun was nearly set. I am honestly unsure of the mileage we covered because we were all so excited that the distance hardly mattered! hehe! Both of these hikes had bright colorful plants, massive leaves almost 4x the size of my head, massive snails that were the size of my palm, and lizards fleeing everywhere!!
While we hiked in Bosque Rio Abajo, we entered a large cave that was filled with stalagmites, stalactites, many different mineral deposits… and massive arm scooping spiders!! We captured one to observe, and its body, while opened up, filled a 1 gallon zip lock bag. Their front 2 arms had small fibers used to brush their prey directly into their mouths! (The spider was unharmed and released!) While going through this cave, we had to climb up through small waterfalls and maneuver through low ceilings. We eventually found an area that had animal remains and decided that it was a good time to turn back.
One of the best parts about this program was being able to work with other like-minded individuals who all valued both nature and art. When we would find something interesting, we would all get excited and gather together as a group to observe and talk about it. We also created eco-art sculptures along trails in the midst of our learning activities and would carry around our own sketchbooks to take note and draw anything of interest along the way!
Be prepared for parts 2 and 3, Puerto Rico: The Deserts & Puerto Rico: The Beaches!!!